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There's further coverage of topical Nimzo-Indian variations this month, including arguably the main line at the present moment in time, 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5; plus the ambitious 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4, which continues to cause Black a few problems.

Feel free to share your ideas and opinions on the Forum (the link above on the right), while subscribers with any questions can email me at

Download PGN of September '11 Nimzo and Benoni games

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Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 6...d5 [E36]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 a3 Bxc3+ 6 Qxc3 d5:

Black's results at the highest level continue to impress in the 6...d5 line. In Carlsen - Kramnik, Moscow 2011, the Norwegian Grandmaster chose the solid 7 e3 and, after 7...b6, the rare move 8 cxd5!?, but he was unable to make any headway. In fact Kramnik seemed to be the one pushing after a strong piece sacrifice.

Doric - Petkov, Paracin 2011, acts as a reminder of the strength of Anand's 7...Ne4!, which is surely the reason we are seeing very little of 7 cxd5 at the moment. It's very unlikely that Doric's novelty 8 Qb3?! will change this.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 [E32]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 0-0 5 e4 d5 6 e5 Ne4 7 Bd3 c5 8 Nf3 cxd4 9 Nxd4 Nd7 10 Bf4 Ndc5 11 0-0 Bxc3 12 bxc3:

Black is trying hard to solve some niggling problems in this line, with varied success.

In Sarkar - Gelashvili, Philadelphia 2011, he plays 12...Bd7!? to keep the tension by refusing to exchange on d3 for the moment. The critical response is thought to be 13 Be2, but then Gelashvili is successful with the tricky 13...Na4!?.

One advantage of 12...Bd7 is that White's plan of action isn't as clear-cut as it is against 12...Nxd3 13 Qxd3 b6 14 cxd5 Qxd5 15 Rfd1. Mamedyarov - Ganguly, Ningbo 2011, where Black plays 15...Bb7, is a reminder of how difficult Black's position is to play in this line, especially in practical terms because it's so easy for a White attack on the kingside to suddenly become decisive.

Another recent attempt by Black is 15...Bd7!?, as played in Shengelia - Sakelsek, Graz 2011:

This looks like a refinement of the older 15...Rd8 idea. Black intends the same plan but tries to do without the rook move.

Nimzo-Indian: 4 Qc2 d5 [E35]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 Qc2 d5 5 cxd5 exd5 6 Bg5 c5 7 dxc5 h6 8 Bh4 g5 9 Bg3 Ne4 10 e3 Qa5 11 Nge2 Bf5 12 Be5 0-0 13 Nd4 Re8:

In So - Grandelius, Malmo 2011, White goes astray by taking on h6 too early (see Kuljasevic-Kleiman, Lubbock 2011, in the archives for what I feel are White's most critical options). Black is soon better and won a very nice game. Look out for Black's turbo-charged queen which makes 10 of the final 12 moves!

Nimzo-Indian: Rubinstein Variation 8 cxd5 [E56]

1 d4 Nf6 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Bb4 4 e3 0-0 5 Bd3 d5 6 Nf3 c5 7 0-0 0-0 8 cxd5 exd5 9 dxc5 Bxc5:

Finally this month, Aleksandrov - Levin, St Petersburg 2011, demonstrates a way for White to play the mainline Rubinstein and give Black the IQP (usually it's the other way round). It's highly unlikely that White can expect a theoretical edge in these positions, but of course they will suit certain players, and Aleksandrov has been happy to play this line quite a few times.

Till next time, John

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